Originally Published: Mar 30, 2010 10:31 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Mobile Journalist
TULSA, Oklahoma – Ken Carter certainly knows how to work a room. The inspiration for the hit Disney movie Coach Carter greeted an intimate gathering at Holland Hall High School Tuesday night with the piercing sound of his whistle blared into a microphone.
Carter’s visit was part of the Tulsa Youth Speaker Series put on by the Tulsa Mental Health Association. He spoke to the crowd for over an hour about the life lessons he learned through basketball and coaching. The speech was titled “The Possibilities Are Endless”, and his message was well received.
“There’s not a parent in America who doesn’t want their kid to be successful,” Carter said before his speech. “You look at our school systems, and they aren’t broken but they’re on life support. Once you convince the kid, ‘you’re tomorrow’s future’, and they internalize it, the kid goes on to do great things.”
After his Richmond High School (California) team member’s grades continued to slip in the fall of 1997, Carter’s decision to suspend all basketball activities sparked controversy in his community. A coach placing more emphasis on academics than athletics was a foreign idea to the players and their parents.
Carter’s team was undefeated and headed for the playoffs, but he wouldn’t allow them to resume playing until every player met his mandatory overall 2.3 GPA. The team got its grades up and proved his point. You can achieve great things even if few believe it.
“One person CAN make a difference,” smiled Carter. “You must be kind and generous to everyone you meet.”
Carter has won seven state high school basketball championships. In ten years at Richmond High School, Carter graduated 100 percent of his players and never had a player miss a practice.
For more on his story, visit coachcarter.com